The so-called “QAnon Shaman” who wore furs and warpaint to the U.S. Capitol riot will not be released from jail before his trial after a U.S. federal judge deemed him too dangerous and delusional for release.
Jacob Chansley is slated to remain behind bars until his trial for six charges related to the Jan. 6 riot, which saw a mob of former U.S. president Donald Trump‘s supporters storm the Capitol in defiance of an election that he lost.
Judge Royce Lamberth on Monday dismissed Chansley’s claims that he was merely a peaceful presence at the riot, where he was photographed at the head of the mob and inside the Senate chamber. Lamberth also rankled at the defence’s suggestion that Chansley had been denied private access to his lawyer, after he used one such meeting to conduct a media interview with the CBS program 60 Minutes Plus.
“That argument is so frivolous as to insult the Court’s intelligence,” Lamberth wrote in a scathing 32-page opinion.
Chansley was one of several high-profile believers in the QAnon hoax who was photographed at the riot. He was seen wearing furs and face paint, and he carried a bullhorn and a spear-tipped flag pole with an American flag on it.
Chansley was arrested in late January and has pleaded not guilty to charges of civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, violent entry and disorderly conduct.
Lamberth said that Chansley’s defence arguments showed a “detachment from reality,” particularly after he claimed to be peaceful and harmless.
The judge said that Chansley “characterizes himself as a peaceful person who was welcomed into the Capitol building on Jan. 6 by police officers. The Court finds none of his many attempts to manipulate the evidence and minimize the seriousness of his actions persuasive.”
Chansley is not accused of attacking anyone in the riot, which led to the deaths of five people.
Lamberth systematically picked apart Chansley’s claims of non-violence, pointing out that he called former vice-president Mike Pence a “traitor” within the Senate chamber, and that he left the VP a note saying, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
Chansley disputed the suggestion that such a message was threatening, although the judge didn’t buy it because Chansley had posted about hanging traitors in November on social media.
“Reading that note in the context of defendant’s earlier promotion of the execution of ‘traitors’ invalidates the notion that defendant breached the Capitol merely to leave peaceful, political commentary on the Senate dais,” Lamberth wrote.
The judge also accepted prosecutors’ arguments that Chansley’s spear-tipped flagpole was a potentially dangerous weapon.
The judge added that the suspect appeared not to grasp the severity of the allegations against him, based on the media interview that he conducted from jail.
“To the contrary, he believes that he — not the American people or members of Congress — was the victim on Jan. 6.”
Chansley claimed in the media interview that he was a patriot and that he had heroically stopped others from taking muffins out of a break room in the Capitol.
“My actions were not an attack on this country,” says Jacob Chansley, aka “the QAnon Shaman.” For the first time since his arrest, Chansley talks publicly about his actions that day, and he tells @LaurieSegall why he wanted to be in the Senate chamber. https://t.co/AhuFQOSzts pic.twitter.com/bIgKjVYS5I
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) March 4, 2021
The colourful QAnon believer has made headlines throughout his stay in jail. He initially complained that he wasn’t getting organic food behind bars, pleaded with Trump to pardon him, then suggested that he would testify against Trump at the ex-president’s impeachment trial over the riot.
A prosecutor said Chansley claims to be sorry for his actions during the riot, yet he still believes the election wasn’t legitimate.
“He cannot be trusted now to suddenly change course,” prosecutors said.
Chansley’s attorney, Al Watkins, said his client didn’t act violently inside the Capitol and disputed that Chansley was any sort of leader in the riot.
The judge ultimately sided with the prosecutors’ argument.
—With files from The Associated Press
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